California Dreaming

Justice Innovation Lab
3 min readMay 9, 2024
Photo credit: Joanie Weaver, JIL Data & Web Engineer

In the daily grind of work — the seemingly endless video calls, the emails, the tedious admin — it is easy to lose sight of the positive changes occurring around the country. My recent trip to California reminded me why I do this work — and allowed me to interact with our numerous partners who work every day to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice.

My trip began with a visit to Berkeley University Law School, where I was hosted by Chesa Boudin, founding executive director of Berkeley’s Criminal Law & Justice Center. The event, entitled “Frontiers of Justice: From Police Misconduct Data-Informed Reform,” allowed me to share my thoughts on how communities can begin using data to ensure that their justice systems can function in a more fair and effective way. I always enjoy speaking to students — their energy is infectious — and this group in particular gave me hope that the next generation of legal practitioners will be better prepared to fix our broken system.

That evening, I had the pleasure of speaking alongside the leaders of two organizations who are building a more justice system every day. The panel, entitled “Innovations in Justice,” included my friends and collaborators Serena Chang of Recidiviz and Hillary Blout of For The People. Hosted by Susan and David Tunnell, who have been great champions of the work of Justice Innovation Lab, the conversation gave us a chance to focus on innovations that are working to reshape the justice system by incorporating new technology, data, and changes to practice to reduce unnecessary incarceration and improve community safety goals. At a time when criminal justice reporting has focused on fear, it is refreshing to be with a community who understands that there is much we can do right now to fix systemic problems that are causing significant harm to our communities.

I closed out the week at a conference on data and prosecution hosted by the Association of Prosecution Attorneys (APA) and Microsoft’s Justice Reform Initiative. The room was filled with the people at the forefront of building a more thoughtful and data-informed justice system. The room included some of my favorite people — Kevin Miller and Shiqueen Brown from Microsoft, Patrick Robinson from VSV Leadership, Katricia Cleveland from Measures for Justice, Don Steman and Brandon Dupont from Prosecutor Performance Indicators, Oren Gur from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Mark Haase from Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, Laurie Garducci from MacArthur Foundation, Kristine Hamann from Prosecutors’ Center for Excellence, David Labohn and Marlene Biener from the APA, and scores of innovative prosecutors from around the United States. The event was a reminder that while the field has come a long way, there is still much work to be done in building a more data-informed system that can achieve public safety in a fair and unbiased way. I am glad to be a part of a community taking these issues head on.

As I am now back at my desk, once again dealing with the minutiae of life, I am grateful to know that there are so many great people out in there working to build a more just world. I am glad to be in the fight with you.

By: Jared Fishman, Justice Innovation Lab Founder and Executive Director

For more information about Justice Innovation Lab, visit www.JusticeInnovationLab.org.

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Justice Innovation Lab

Justice Innovation Lab builds data-informed, community-rooted solutions for a more equitable, effective, and fair justice system.